Springfield Daily Citizen team celebrates its team members’ win of the Breaking Barriers Award in September 2022.

The Springfield Daily Citizen, in just its seventh month of publication, has won its first national award.

The Institute for Nonprofit News handed out the Nonprofit News Awards on Sept. 21, giving the Springfield Daily Citizen team the “Breaking Barriers Award” in the Medium Newsroom category for stories that humanized and helped the homeless.

Members of the staff of the Springfield Daily Citizen days before the official launch of the online news site. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

“The Springfield Daily Citizen, which launched its website in February of this year, has devoted significant, ongoing coverage to the issue of homelessness in their southwest Missouri community,” the INN said in a press release. “After these stories were published, the City Council, in separate actions, allocated $6.5 million in funding to help address the issue of homelessness.”

Journalists Rance Burger, Steve Pokin and Jackie Rehwald wrote the stories for the Daily Citizen’s entry in the contest. Randy Bacon and Dean Curtis provided photography for the stories, while Shannon Cay Bowers produced video content as well as graphics. Brittany Meiling edited all three stories in the winning entry.

“Earning national recognition for excellent journalism is a testament to our team’s hard work,” said Meiling. “All of us got into this knowing startups are hard, and reputations are earned. I’m so proud of Jackie, Steve and Rance, and the entire team. Good stories truly are a team effort.”

The INN Nonprofit News Awards, or INNYs, honor excellence in journalism, leadership and community service across the field of nonprofit news. The INN received 407 entries from 129 news organizations and gave out 28 awards across 11 categories. The Daily Citizen competed in the Medium Newsroom category, which is defined as organizations with annual revenue between $250,001 and $999,999.

Pokin also collected awards from the Missouri Press Association’s 2022 Better Newspaper Contest for his previous work with the Springfield News-Leader before he joined the Daily Citizen. Pokin won first place for Best Story About Religion and second place for Best Columnist — Humorous and Best Military Story.

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger